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Author Topic: Hitting the Perfect Skin Tone?  (Read 55301 times)
gwhitf
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« on: December 04, 2008, 08:54:06 AM »
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 08:19:24 AM by gwhitf » Logged
Snook
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2008, 09:02:48 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
I know this forum is mostly landscapes and such, but I wonder if anyone here is truly feeling good about nailing the perfect, natural skin tone, even with strobe, without a ton of post work needed after the fact?

I have owned 1ds, 1ds2, 1ds3, P45, P30, P21, and I fight it every single job. I call it the search for that Natural Global Brown Skin Tone. I have a theory that the whole reason that all this crazy over-processed style came about was because all these film guys switched to digital one day, and they were clueless about how to hit skin, so they said Well if I cant hit it, then let's just start another fad, and we'll desaturate the skin and add some contrast, and it'll be cool. But not every job is appropriate for that. And sometimes it comes down to the real basics -- how to nail the skin, without a dozen Adjustment Layers. The nicest skin, to me, still results from Color Neg film, even in 2008. I'm talking just natural even skin, without those harsh transitions, and without runaway Reds and Yellows.

I have used the Color Editor in PhaseOne 3.79 a good bit, to create new custom Input Profiles. It works OK. Yet I find that damn near with each job, in each new lighting situation, you almost have a create a new style. Every job.

With Canon DPP, you've got Contrast, and you've got Hue, and you've got Saturation, and I've found that Canon always skews toward the Red, (as does Phase). So you think, Well just drop the Saturation, or slide the Hue, but then you're affecting everything, which is awful. And even then, still hard to hit that magic skin.

If I was Phase, I'd include about TWENTY different input profiles just for skin alone, canned inside CaptureOne. I have found it's best, with CaptureOne, to use NO COLOR CORRECTION input profile with Phase, and then tweak it in Photoshop later. NCC is much much more neutral, and you reduce that weird "Yellow to Red" transitions that happen with Phase chip.

Same with Canon and DPP. Right now, there's Neutral, and Standard, Landscape, and such, but I'd like the ability to have twenty "styles" inside of DPP for skin alone. A true professional solution.

I have no idea how Leaf deals with this, or Hasselblad. Never used their software, (other than the old Flexcolor, with the Imacon scanner).

You see these retouched samples inside of say Victor Magazine, and they're stunning, but what they don't tell you, of course, is that who knows what the hell the RAW file looked like, right out of the can, and they never include the five figure invoice from the Retoucher either.

Is it just me, or is everyone else hitting perfect skin, right out of the can?

I hear you..
But I always do a white balance before each shot and after the light has changed..
Then I do all my Skin tones by the numbers in photoshop which is the proper way to do it.
Now you do realize, I am sure, that depending where and for what your picture is going to be publish it changes..
Web display a different color than magazines than Catalogues.

Worse than what you mention is that when I get the skin tones like I want.. Usually the Printers Screw everything up anyways when they put in their Profiles and change to cymk...:+}

For what media are you talking about???

Also if you do not have a calibrated monitor , forget it.
Also I do not see how C-1 could have so many canned profiles that would work as depending what lights your are using and what reflections are being tossed into the skin tone from surrounding objects you will never get anything out of a canned profile.

I understand your frustration and I am also one of those.. Desaturate the red and or yellows on all my images.. Not b/c I do not like the Skin tones but b/c I personally like the skin a little desaturated and Surreal.

Snook
PS. IF you do any retouching to your images.. Many adjustment layers in photoshop will change color so you have to be aware and always check the numbers before you give the final Image.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 09:05:57 AM by Snook » Logged
gwhitf
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2008, 09:13:23 AM »
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 08:32:47 AM by gwhitf » Logged
Max Penson
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2008, 09:44:01 AM »
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Basically, the camera you are using or the software you are using should provide color profiles (or color rendering) based on some kind of study. The results of this study might not be what you are looking for in terms of skin tone. So, my best advice to you is to do one of the two:

1. Find the software/camera/profile with the skin color you are looking for.
2. Do your own ICC profile.

Regarding 2, an ICC profile will be able to suit ant subject as long as you don't change lighting conditions (like from D50 to tungsten). A good ICC profile can be one stop for all skin tones as long as you are not asking too much.

Here is how to do an ICC profile with an ICC editor (such as the one in C1):

1. Gather all skin tone images you have under flash into one folder
2. Start with one skin tone sample and try to fix that color the best you can
3. Move to the next image and try to fix that image, even if it means changing the previous image adjustments
4. Repeat for all images.
5. At the end, go back and fix the images you feel you really want to get right.
6. You will not be able to get perfect skin color in every shoot. This is a starting point profile. You'll have to make adjustments to some skin tones on set.
7. If you find that some tones have to be fixed very differently than others, you'll have to divide those tone into a different group and make a profile for that group.
8. Take your time, this kind of process takes about 2-3 weeks.

Have fun.

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Snook
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2008, 09:45:02 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
What exactly is the procedure for "by the numbers"? What is the approach? Have a certain RGB combination, and then do Adjustment Layers until you hit that? How: Brazilian, Caucasian, African-American, Asian? Seems way too broad for me to understand. A Sudanese model next to Obama? A freckled Irish girl next to Heidi Klum?

Of course, calibrated monitor and advanced knowledge of Photoshop and Adjustment Layers and Input/Output profiles, automatic.

I'd like to see a feature similar to that cheesey VARIATIONS command inside of Photoshop, but where you could take the base image, and then load maybe six or eight different skin input profiles, and then see the effect that each of those profiles has on the image in front of you. Of course, every situation is different, but you could just roll the dice and preview the various skin profiles.

Of course, every face is not going to be perfectly brown. But every job does not afford budget or time for massive makeup situation on every subject. And even WITH makeup artist, many times, I'm still fighting that Yellow-to-Red transition, especially with Phase, even with NCC IP.

No Cheese and it works..
There is a formula.
Of course the end result is how "you" see it..

Do a search fro Skin tones by the Numbers.. Lee Varis has a great book you should read.. It is called SKIN!
Just what your talking about.

I put a dropper on the hight light (on the face), actually I put several in different locations and then you change the dropper tool to read out CYMK then by the number you can get the skin tone you want.
A perfect example and a base to go by is Even in RGB R should be more than G and G should be slightly more than B depending on how warm you want the skin tones to be.
It is juts to open and many people see things different but if you follow the numbers and trust them.. you really cannot go wrong. I mean the girl won't look like a green martian from another planet.
African Americans or "Black" Skins usually have a lot more Blue or Cyan to them.. Once you start getting it down it is really easy and a first step in my Post work.. I think anybody's post work really.. Should be!!

The Book by Lee Varis is a MUST if you do retouching and especially people retouching!

Do your self a favor and go get the book. Or you can do a search on Google= Skintones by the Numbers.. there should many thousands of Post that you can easily dig through.

Like you said most people in here are Not shooting Portrait and or Beauty /Fashion
So I doubt you will get much response.. atleast I am sure not better than mine.

These Old farts in here Like to Fight over megapixels... And that is about it.
Snook

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gwhitf
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 09:53:59 AM »
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 08:32:19 AM by gwhitf » Logged
Snook
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2008, 09:57:46 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
Please furnish me with these ICC Input Profiles:

A. "PhaseP45_CokeModel_RedRemove": Model that just went into the bathroom and did two lines during a Break. (Red nose).

B. "PhaseP45_CEO_on_ledge_RedRemove": CEO who gives me five minutes to shoot assignment, but he saw his Third Quarter P/L Statement late last night, and he was in the Hotel Bar until Closing Time last night, (and we're shooting in Vegas, where there IS no closing time). (Red Nose from Vodka, Red Eyes from crying).

C. "PhaseP45_MiamiAsleep_RedRemove": Talent out too late at Club, then goes to sleep at Hotel Pool the day after, (in Miami sun). (Red all over).


Only Solution..
PHOTOSHOP!!!

Snook
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digitaldog
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2008, 09:59:14 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
What exactly is the procedure for "by the numbers"? What is the approach? Have a certain RGB combination, and then do Adjustment Layers until you hit that? How: Brazilian, Caucasian, African-American, Asian? Seems way too broad for me to understand. A Sudanese model next to Obama? A freckled Irish girl next to Heidi Klum?

Of course, calibrated monitor and advanced knowledge of Photoshop and Adjustment Layers and Input/Output profiles, automatic.

I'd like to see a feature similar to that cheesey VARIATIONS command inside of Photoshop, but where you could take the base image, and then load maybe six or eight different skin input profiles, and then see the effect that each of those profiles has on the image in front of you. Of course, every situation is different, but you could just roll the dice and preview the various skin profiles.

The CMYK by the numbers "technique" is pretty bogus (its based on some undefined press condition which has nothing to do with what you're editing).

RGB is not as difficult but again, what working space? Its really easy in Lightroom using the percentages. Again, YMMV (as you point out, everyone has differing skin). But I've found that by comparing well known, quality files of various ethnic groups, that is, files I know output well, that if R is about 8-10% higher than G, and G again about 8-10% higher than B, you get a good ratio (ie 80%/70%/60%). But you still need to use your eyes and brain, a calibrated display and spice to taste.

The variation idea would be great, I've been asking Adobe to beef this up for years. I also recommend that if you create a gallery of good, well known files of skin tone that's output as you desire, you can use that as a visual guide. Again, in LR that's easy, make a collection.

I wish Adobe would produce an info palette that would toggle to the 0-255 scale to percentages as we have in Lightroom. Then there would be more parity between the two products and in cases like this, working with RGB percentages is useful. Again, the working space is a factor as the percentages in LR are based on Melissa RGB.
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Andrew Rodney
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gwhitf
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2008, 10:30:20 AM »
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 08:31:55 AM by gwhitf » Logged
Frank Doorhof
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 11:07:41 AM »
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First hire a good MUA, there is a big difference between a good one and a not so good one.
The good ones will even out the skin for you and also take care of the other parts of the body like hands etc.
Also select a model with a good skin if possible (sometimes it's not of course)

Than technically:
Shoot a colorchecker like the gretag.
Make a profile.
Use that profile.

Make sure your chain is calibrated, so monitor, printer etc.
Make sure that you do the calibration in the colorspace you use.
I'm using prophotoRGB and have calibrated my workflow for that colorspace.

Should be no problem after that.
I hand my models a graycard and balance on that after the session with the correct profile already in place.
For the Leaf I did not even bother to shoot the gretag, I love the skintones from the Aptus.

What we do after that is of course creative freedom, but if you want 100% accurate the colorchecker is a good start.
There will ofcourse always be limitations in what your camera CAN register, but with a proper calibrated chain it should be not a real problem to get a good skintone.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 11:11:27 AM by Frank Doorhof » Logged
Snook
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 11:58:20 AM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
The CMYK by the numbers "technique" is pretty bogus (its based on some undefined press condition which has nothing to do with what you're editing).

RGB is not as difficult but again, what working space? Its really easy in Lightroom using the percentages. Again, YMMV (as you point out, everyone has differing skin). But I've found that by comparing well known, quality files of various ethnic groups, that is, files I know output well, that if R is about 8-10% higher than G, and G again about 8-10% higher than B, you get a good ratio (ie 80%/70%/60%). But you still need to use your eyes and brain, a calibrated display and spice to taste.

The variation idea would be great, I've been asking Adobe to beef this up for years. I also recommend that if you create a gallery of good, well known files of skin tone that's output as you desire, you can use that as a visual guide. Again, in LR that's easy, make a collection.

I wish Adobe would produce an info palette that would toggle to the 0-255 scale to percentages as we have in Lightroom. Then there would be more parity between the two products and in cases like this, working with RGB percentages is useful. Again, the working space is a factor as the percentages in LR are based on Melissa RGB.


Bogus is a pretty harsh statement.. And by the looks of your website you have no idea what you are talking about.

Snook
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digitaldog
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2008, 12:05:03 PM »
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Quote from: Snook
Bogus is a pretty harsh statement.. And by the looks of your website you have no idea what you are talking about.

Snook

Interesting. So can you please let us all know why you feel its not bogus to use an output color space for a device that has no relationship to the document you're editing?

What on my site gives you the idea I don't know what I'm talking about? I'm always open to peer review. Assuming you're a peer.
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Andrew Rodney
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rcdurston
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2008, 12:17:55 PM »
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Quote from: Snook
Bogus is a pretty harsh statement.. And by the looks of your website you have no idea what you are talking about.

Snook
Hmmm
not to throw stones but can we see your site and some samples of your skintone method?
thanks

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Snook
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2008, 12:21:42 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
Interesting. So can you please let us all know why you feel its not bogus to use an output color space for a device that has no relationship to the document you're editing?

What on my site gives you the idea I don't know what I'm talking about? I'm always open to peer review. Assuming you're a peer.


I was simply trying to help the Poster and not trying to sell books...
I was offering  my Hands-on Experience help.. Not some technical BS like everything on this site...

So jumping in saying something is Bogus when you have no clue is pretty harsh.. Even if you were right.

I guess you think Lee Varis is Bogus and His Book also??

Every photoshop Program I have ever studied starts by correcting by the numbers and or White and Black points on an image..

I also mentioned , Like Frank, that it is better just to shoot with a Color chart or WhiBal to Start with.
If you want to talk all the techy BS, Go for it.. I am talking about what works for me as a Portrait photographer for 20 some odd years... And my speciality is Beauty.. Ummm , But I guess that does matter to you as you made your comment with out thinking first maybe?

Snook

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Snook
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2008, 12:27:09 PM »
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Quote from: rcdurston
Hmmm
not to throw stones but can we see your site and some samples of your skintone method?
thanks

Ofcourse you can..
Just in the middle of Changing it, But you'll get the idea..
www.ericknorpp.com
and or
http://homepage.mac.com/ekphotography/2005/
look under /2006 also if you like.. Change the 2005 to 2006.


Have not needed a site in many years but you'll get an idea of what I do..
I think it may be more reliable than a site with  a chessy Muslim background and a Dog looking into a computer monitor from the 80's??
But you decide..:+]

I am sure Lee Varis had sold more books than people have even looked at this guys site.. SO Like I said, Check out Lee Varis's book "SKIN"..
Not going to get sucked into another arguement with some PixelPeeper who does not even actually shoot but once a year.. Like most people in here.

Been trying to stay out of this site lately b/c too many old ladies ready to B*itch about every little thing...

Too bad it will probably die a long with Medium format here soon...:+}

Snook
« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 12:27:58 PM by Snook » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2008, 12:37:11 PM »
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Quote from: rcdurston
Hmmm
not to throw stones but can we see your site and some samples of your skintone method?
thanks


Try this:

http://digitaldog.net/files/LR_Skintone_Ratio.jpg

Most of the skintone comes from the superb Roman 16 images (http://www.roman16.com/en/), others I've shot.

This discussion has already be voiced here: http://www.openphotographyforums.com/forum...7255&page=5

My take on this old CMYK technique is its old, complicated and no longer viable for so many reasons of which I describe in the link above. But to paraphrase:
Quote
Take a look at your own CMYK examples here. Try this. Go into the Photoshop Color Settings, select Custom CMYK and pick the "default" which is SWOP with a medium GCR. Now open your RGB document with skin and put a sample point on the skin and have the readout set to CMYK.

In the example of an image I have (in ColorMatch RGB), the values I get are:

15/44/34/4

Now simply go back into the CMYK setup and change just the GCR to Max (nothing else). The new values are:

0/38/25/19!

The ratio's are shot. There's a difference in Cyan of 15, magenta of 6, yellow of 9 and black of 15. Which of the two sets of CMYK (both based on SWOP) are correct? I would submit, none are.

However, the RGB values haven't changed a lick. Why deal with a ratio of colors that uses four colors based on a ink and press colorant when you could simply build a set of ratio rules using RGB? It wouldn't matter one bit how a user sets up his/her color settings. The color values are the color values? And this ignores the idea of simply LOOKING on a calibrated display what the skin tones look like (or building a small visual library of known, well output skin tones as a reference when correcting an image).

This CMYK technique is simply an old, brain dead way of working numerically, based on Photoshop prior to color management, calibrated and profiled displays and well behaved RGB working spaces. It needs to go away (like Adobe Gamma).

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Andrew Rodney
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2008, 12:40:24 PM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
.

Is it just me, or is everyone else hitting perfect skin, right out of the can?

No !

Either..

Digital cameras act as a kind of Xray machine and show up veins under the skin leading to exagerated changes of tone not visible to the eye or pleaseant in print/onscreen

or

Digital cameras are insensitive to red - so blotches wine noses etc really show up badly because they are red and show up darker

so

1) shoot spaniards and argentinians - not english roses !
2) make shure the subject is physically warm not cold

----

I have tried IR cut filter to cut infrared - helps 5%

If you are using (strobe)  lights you could consider this..

a (very) mild red filter over the light will mean the light is red and shadow under eyes for example are red so they become effectively lighter in the image proportionaly reflectiing more light

of course you grey card it to get rid of the actual cast

Shooting tungsten has a red cast that will have the same effect after correction so maybe shoot under tungsten

(I got taught at black and white school to shoot women under tunsgsten and men under blue to roughen them up !)

of course when trying to balance against other lights like daylight this becomes problematic

This is the same trickery that causes confusing colours under sodium street lighting where bits of the spectrum are not reflecting strongly*

The game is to fool the sensor

Just my thoughts

S

*interestingly the yorkshire ripper a uk murderer is believed to have evaded capture partly because a witness 'mis identified' the colour of his car under sodium lighting leading the police off the trail because the murderer was ruled out on the colour of his car - it was later realised that his car would have been the colour the witness described when viewed under street lighiting at night
« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 01:03:41 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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digitaldog
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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2008, 12:47:24 PM »
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Quote from: Snook
I was simply trying to help the Poster and not trying to sell books...

Neither was I. I don't discuss this old and silly technique for skin tone in my book.

Quote
I was offering  my Hands-on Experience help.. Not some technical BS like everything on this site...

Wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Just what "technical BS" are you referring to? You've read everything on the site and you're going on record here that everything there is BS? You sure you want to make such a rash statement and call onto yourself such a questionable statement with (as yet) nothing to back it up? I'm all ears.

Quote
So jumping in saying something is Bogus when you have no clue is pretty harsh.. Even if you were right.

Again, you've failed to illustrate how what I said is clueless. I suspect you don't have anything technically relevant to back up your claim so there goes the desire for peer review from you.

Quote
I guess you think Lee Varis is Bogus and His Book also??

No comment, I don't have Lee's book. I do know about this very old CMYK "technique" which predates Lee's book by about a decade and a half. Do you know where it came from? Lets see if you can answer and win a prize. Give you a hint, it predates color displays and Photoshop.

Quote
Every photoshop Program I have ever studied starts by correcting by the numbers and or White and Black points on an image..

Again, you don't seem to understand my points or you wouldn’t say something as silly as this. White and Black points are one thing. What encoding color space? We're (I'm) referring to a specific color model, CMYK for "correcting" skin tones on an RGB document. Got NOTHING to do with white and black points.

Quote
I also mentioned , Like Frank, that it is better just to shoot with a Color chart or WhiBal to Start with.

Totally immaterial to the discussion of using some CMYK color space, based on some press conditions to correct skin tones. If you want to talk about Color charts for WB, say so.

Quote
If you want to talk all the techy BS, Go for it.. I am talking about what works for me as a Portrait photographer for 20 some odd years... And my speciality is Beauty.. Ummm , But I guess that does matter to you as you made your comment with out thinking first maybe?

Its apparently BS to you because you apparently don't understand the points made, which is fine. Your attitude needs some adjusting though. You seem to have a lot to learn! But what you don't know or understand you call BS. Interesting attitude.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2008, 01:00:38 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
attitude.

Andrew while you may call yourself Dog you should be aware that Snook is one who howls when his tail is trodden on

He has a fair point - we are mainly fairly tech savy in this area - can you link us to some nice portraits of yours - snook has some in the MF work thread I beleive

Anyway back to topic

S
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2008, 01:12:30 PM »
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Quote from: Morgan_Moore
He has a fair point - we are mainly fairly tech savy in this area - can you link us to some nice portraits of yours - snook has some in the MF work thread I beleive

First off, what is fair about his points directed at me?
Second, his ability to shoot "better" portraits in what way backs up what he's said about the technical points I've made or my site?
Third, I'd be happy to find some portraits and pop a web gallery or something if you really think this has any bearing on point one and two above.

Oh, if you happen to be a GretagMacbeth or X-Rite customer that owns EyeOne Match, you'll find a color test file they provide, it contains portraits I shot that they feel represent good skin tone examples for evaluating profiles their package builds. Its in LAB for obvious (well maybe not obvious to Snook) reasons. I suppose if you feel its really necessary, I can downsample and convert to sRGB and post.
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Andrew Rodney
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